Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott has apologised for her comments made on Twitter on Wednesday, which many interpreted as being racist.

Abbott, who was the first black woman to be elected as an MP, was replying to freelance journalist Bim Adewunmi and his criticism of the media’s use of the term ‘black community leaders’ after the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, when she tweeted:

White people love playing ‘divide & rule’. We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism.

The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington explained that the tweet had been referring to ’19th century European colonialism’ and said in an earlier interview with Sky News:

I think the Tweet was taken out of context and some people have interpreted it maliciously.

However, she was later forced to apologise for ‘any offence caused’ by her comment since it was implied that she may lose her job after Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi called for her to be sacked by Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband.

The apology was given in a statement issued by Labour in which Abbott said:

I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused.

She also addressed the matter on Thursday morning by tweeting: